|This Week in History: First Drive-in Movie Theater Opened|
|Friday, 08 June 2012 13:07|
On June 6th, 1933 the first drive-in movie theater was opened in Camden, New Jersey. Drive- in movie theaters, originally known as "park-in theaters" were invented by Richard Hollingshead.
Hollingshead, a movie fan, was motivated by his mother's struggle to sit comfortably in a traditional movie theater seat. This challenge led Hollingshead to the concept of an open-air theater where movie-goers would watch from the comfort of their automobiles.
He experimented in his driveway with various sound and projection techniques. He mounted a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, pinned a screen to some trees, and placed a radio behind the screen for sound. He tested ways to weatherguard the screen, and worked on the ideal arrangement for a large number of cars to all have a good view of the screen.
In May of 1933, the young entrepreneur received a patent for the concept and, less than a month later, with an investment of $3,000, opened Park-In Theaters, Incorporated. Hollingshead charged 25 cents per car and 25 cents per person, Advertised as entertainment for the whole family, the idea caught on, and new drive-ins began opening up all over the country, especially with the end of World War II...as Americans began their love-affair with the automobile.
By the mid-60's there were over 4000 theaters nation-wide. One of the largest theaters was the All-Weather Drive-In of Copiague, New York, featuring space for 2,500 cars, a kid's playground, and a full-service restaurant, all contained on a 28 acre lot. Some theaters even offered Sunday morning services.
However, color TVs, VCRs and video rentals and the rising price of real estate all led to the slow decline of the theaters. Today there are fewer than 500 drive-in theaters still in operation in the United States. Oskaloosa used to have it's own drive-in theater located just off old Highway 163 and Kirby Avenue.
The Oskaloosa Drive-in Theater opened in 1950 and was closed in 1985. The nearest drive-in theater is in Newton, Iowa.